Several programs and a number of positions under the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.'s Division of Public Health have been merged to save on costs this fiscal year, according to division director Roxanne Diaz in her report to the board.
Diaz specifically cited the dissolution of the Community Guidance Center, which used to house several public health programs. This fiscal year 2013, at least eight programs under the center were combined under the new Non-Communicable Disease Bureau, or NCD Bureau.
The Pacific Islands Health Officers Association earlier declared a regional state of health emergency in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands due to the epidemic of NCDs such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, gout, arthritis, and depression. There are various programs to prevent the spread of these chronic diseases that were previously being run on their own.
To save on personnel cost, Diaz said the division secured approval from the federal granting agency to allow the performance improvement manager to oversee both the hospital and the public health quality assurance and management office.
To generate additional revenue for the corporation, federal programs offices were relocated to their own facilities, resulting in an estimated $78,000 savings this fiscal year, she said.
Diaz said the division's proposed budget for 2013 is a significant 52-percent reduction compared the previous fiscal year's. In FY 2012, the proposed budget for the division was $1.09 million.
Diaz said the reduction was made after 10 locally funded positions that are subject to reduction-in-force this fiscal year were moved to federal funds. This effort, she said, will bring some $400,000 savings to the corporation.
The corporation's proposed 2013 budget recommends a total of 25 employees for the division, for a total personnel cost of $540,166. Of this amount, $483,803 is for wages/salaries; $19,352 for personnel insurance; $29,996 for FICA contribution; and $7,015 for Medicare contribution.
In citing the importance of making every employees aware of their responsibilities and the programs they manage, Diaz said a mandatory monthly workshop and professional development training have been set for all division employees “in order to do more leveraging and sharing of information and limited services of the corporation” in general.
Diaz claims that in the past 10 months she's been serving as Public Health director, she has found out that many past decisions were made without proper data evidence. This is one of the areas she wants to focus on in her new role.
Diaz cited the four main pillars of her leadership: financial sustainability of public health and grants management; focusing on activities leading toward improved health outcomes; data management; and human resources.
“Many times, we made decisions without evidence. We usually don't use data to guide our decisions,” she told the board, adding that she wants to focus on infrastructure to ensure that programs are being properly carried out and implemented.